He is Khalid ibn Zayd ibn Kulayb from the Banu An-Najjar tribe, better known as Abu Ayyub, was a great and close companion of the Prophet who enjoyed a privilege that many of the Ansar in Madinah hoped they would have.
When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) reached Madinah after his Hijrah from Makkah, he was greeted with great enthusiasm by the Ansar of Madinah. Their hearts went out to him and their eyes followed him with devotion and love. They wanted to give him the most
generous reception anyone could be given.
The Prophet first stopped at Quba’ on the outskirts of Madinah and stayed there for some days. There he built a mosque, which is described in the Qur’an as the “mosque built on the foundation of piety (taqwa)”. (At-Tawbah 9: 108)
The Prophet entered Madinah on his camel. The chieftains of the city stood along his path, each wishing to have the honor of the Prophet alighting and staying at his house. One after the other stood in the camel’s way entreating, “Stay with us, Messenger of Allah.”
“Leave the camel,” the Prophet would say. “It is under command.”
The camel continued walking, closely followed by the eyes and hearts of the people of Madinah. When it went past a house, its owner would feel sad and dejected and hope would rise in the hearts of others still on the route.
The camel continued in this fashion with the people following it until it hesitated at an open space in front of the house of Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari. But the Prophet did not get down. After only a short while, the camel set off again, the Prophet leaving its reins loose. Before long, however, it turned round, retraced its steps and stopped in the same spot as before. Abu Ayyub’s heart was filled with happiness. He went out to the Prophet and greeted him with great enthusiasm. He took the Prophet’s baggage in his arms and felt as if he was carrying the most precious treasure in the world.
Abu Ayyub’s house had two stories. He emptied the upper floor of his and his family’s possessions so that the Prophet could stay there, but the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) preferred to stay on the lower floor.
Night came and the Prophet retired. Abu Ayyub went up to the upper floor. But when they had closed the door, Abu Ayyub turned to his wife and said, “Woe to us! What have we done? The Messenger of Allah is below and we are higher than he! Can we walk on top of the Messenger of Allah? Do we come between him and the Revelation? If so, we are doomed.”
The couple became very worried, not knowing what to do. They only got some peace of mind when they moved to the side of the building that was not directly above the Prophet. They were careful also only to walk on the outer parts of the floor and avoid the middle.
In the morning, Abu Ayyub said to the Prophet, “By Allah, we did not sleep a wink last night, neither myself nor Umm Ayyub.”
“Why not, Abu Ayyub?” asked the Prophet.
Abu Ayyub explained how terrible they felt being above while the Prophet was below them and how they might have interrupted the Revelation.
“Don’t worry, Abu Ayyub,” said the Prophet. “We prefer the lower floor because of the many people coming to visit us.”
“We submitted to the Prophet’s wishes,” Abu Ayyub related, “until one cold night a jar of ours broke and the water spilled on the upper floor. Umm Ayyub and I stared at the water. We only had one piece of velvet which we used as a blanket. We used it to mop up the water out of fear that it would seep through to the Prophet. In the morning I went to him and said, ‘I do not like to be above you,’ and told him what had happened. He accepted my wish and we changed floors.”
The Prophet stayed in Abu Ayyub’s house for almost seven months until his mosque was completed in the open space where his camel had stopped. He moved to the rooms that were built around the mosque for himself and his family. He thus became a neighbor of Abu Ayyub. What a noble neighbor to have had!
Abu Ayyub continued to love the Prophet with all his heart and the Prophet also loved him dearly. There was no formality between them. The Prophet continued to regard Abu Ayyub’s house as his own.
Abu Ayyub died in 51 AH.